Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Release Date: October 1st 2014
Summary (From Goodreads):
Young, rich and good-looking, Izzy and her friends lead seemingly perfect lives. But exams are looming and at a school like Clerkenwell, failure is not an option. Luckily, Tigs has a solution. A small pill that will make revision a breeze and help them get the results they need. Desperate to succeed, the group begin taking the study drug. It doesn’t take long before they realize there are far worse things than failing a few exams.
I bought this book at the UKYA Extravaganza and got it signed by Lou and had a lovely chat with her about her books and the horror genre.
As a bit of a self confessed horror nerd (I spend most evenings watching horror films and I wrote my Masters dissertation on the subject) I enjoyed seeing a lot of classic horror tropes in the story, as well as references to situations we’re so used to seeing in horror films. Protagonist Izzy’s awareness of this (like me, she’s a horror film fan) somehow made the situation more believable: she knows that if she were watching her life as a film, she’d be screaming at herself not to go off alone, but sometimes the situation calls for it.
The setup of the story was very thorough: the characters and their group dynamic was very easy to grasp and the introduction of the pills seemed natural enough, though knowing what the story is about, you’re already yelling at them not to be so stupid. My gripe would be that the set up went on a little too long. It felt like I was over half way through before everything really started kicking off.
The warning on the back of the book is right: it’s definitely not for younger readers. Some of the descriptions are pretty gruesome and there are some grizzly deaths that made my skin crawl.
As with a lot of horror stories, I found I didn’t connect too well with some of the characters, probably because I knew they were going to be killed off. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because I loved Izzy, Grey and Tigs (great name/nickname there) so I didn’t really mind regarding the others as part of the body count.
I was pretty ill while reading this and not sleeping well myself, so I really felt for Izzy as the tiredness began to take over her. I loved the lapses of memory/consciousness and not knowing what was really happening and what wasn’t. It makes everything feel so much more dangerous when the lines between reality and dreams are blurred.
In my head, I was comparing this constantly to Frozen Charlotte, another Red Eye book, and I found this book didn’t have the same kind of creepy atmosphere: if I compared it to a horror film, Sleepless would be a gory slasher, while Frozen Charlotte would be the psychological horror that stays with you long after it’s finished.
The ending was a little confusing and open ended, but it’s another horror trope I’ve come to expect, especially with modern horror: I think horror can lose its effect if it’s all closed off neatly at the end, and with some ambiguity it means the nightmare is still going on.
This is another modern horror that I would recommend to anyone who loves a good scare, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Lou’s books.